Special Coverings Stained

Problem: Spills have occurred on coverings such as velvet, leather, or vinyl.

Background: Dirt and spills on special furniture coverings need to be handled with caution. Velvet, a fabric construction technique, can pre sent problems with at-home methods. In general, there are 2 types of leather: leather that has a surface coating, and leather that has very little surface protection. The way you handle spills on leather will depend on which type you have. Vinyl coverings also require special care when cleaning or removing stains.

What to do: Velvets with stain- resistant finishes usually can be spot-cleaned with a cloth dampened with water. With rayon velvets, avoid water; they can sometimes be spot-cleaned with dry-cleaning sol vents. Note that stain-removal products often warn against their use on velvets, so test for discoloration or pile distortion in a hidden area be fore applying one to a stain. Some adhesives used to make flocked velvet are affected by dry-cleaning sol vents, and many velvets can’t be cleaned with water-based cleaning agents. Dry powder cleaners may be used but, because of possible damage, read labels, pretest all cleaners, and consult a professional cleaner if in doubt.
To clean treated or surface-coated leather, dust with a dry cloth regularly or occasionally clean with a solution of mild soap and warm water. Wipe suds away thoroughly with a clean, damp cloth; then lightly buff with a dry cloth. Most stains can be wiped away with a damp sponge. (Avoid using leather creams, saddle soaps, or oil treatments on treated leather unless the manufacturer states otherwise.) With untreated leathers, or those with limited surface protection, an art-gum eraser may remove ordinary dirt. An un coated surface will absorb liquids and oils, and stains may be impossible to remove. (Avoid using strong detergents, furniture polishes, or dry-cleaning solvents.)
Vinyl's can be cleaned with a clean, damp cloth. For heavier soil, sponge with a warm water and mild detergent solution. (Allow the sudsy mixture to remain for a few minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth and polish with a dry one; don’t let the mixture seep into the upholstery padding.) Rinse well, and pay special attention to areas in contact with hair oils and tonics because they may make vinyl's brittle. Household cleaners may be effective on very soiled vinyl, but cleaners with ammonia or chlorine may cause dam age, and those with abrasives may scratch. Dry-cleaning solvents can cause the fabric to stiffen and its layers to separate. Check labels for products that are marked “safe for all vinyl”; some special auto-upholstery cleaners may also be safe to use.

Special advice: Nail polish and polish remover will damage vinyl's permanently if left on the surface. Sponge with synthetic turpentine or mineral spirits (test first). Ballpoint pen marks may be permanent, but you can try rubbing them with alcohol. If this doesn’t work, cover the area with a clean, white cloth soaked in a 6% solution of hydrogen peroxide for about 30 minutes (also test first). Felt tip markers will usually leave permanent stains, even if wiped up immediately. However, they may respond to treatment with mineral spirits (test first). Some marker inks may be removed with water.

Helpful hint: Vinyl's sometimes absorb dyes from colored objects that they come in contact with. Use white cloths for cleaning. And, after using a cleaning agent, wash and rinse the surface with water.




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